December 28, 2016

Fun & Simple New Year's Traditions

I have a love/hate relationship with New Year's Eve. It's one of those festive holidays that feels like it should be celebrated while dressed to the nines, at some swanky party with other glam looking revelers. But then I also secretly want to be at home in my pajamas, eating comfort food and watching favorite movies til the stroke of midnight.

No matter how you're celebrating New Year's this year, I've got some fun and simple ideas and traditions that you might want to incorporate into your festivities. Be advised that most of the New Year's traditions involve good old fashioned superstition. It's all in good fun of course, but I don't know if I really believe any of it. Still, there's something comforting about traditions you enjoy again and again.

Put Together the Perfect Charcuterie Tray

Charcuterie has to do with prepared meats like salami, sausages, and pate. A charcuterie board or tray is a great option for a New Year's party because it can include a little bit of everything and something for everyone. Whatever your favorite tastes and flavors may be, your charcuterie board can incorporate whatever you like. Some offerings you might want to include are: 

  • Deli meats (prosciutto, ham, salami, corned beef, etc) 
  • Assorted cheeses (hard and soft)
  • Dried fruit (figs, apricots, pineapple, raisins, and plums) 
  • Nuts (Marcona almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts) 
  • Honey
  • Crostini or crackers 
  • Pickles (sweet and dill) 
  • Olives (green, black, kalamata, etc) 

Arrange your charcuterie platter in a way that is pleasing to the eye, and your guests will love it. Start with a cutting board or large tray. Anchor it with a few bunches of grapes and some wedges of cheese. Then add your meats. Layer in different dried fruit, nuts and pickles. Use fresh rosemary for a garnish. Throughout the night, you can replenish your offerings as they run low, but guests are sure to love all the delicious options that a charcuterie tray can provide. 

Eat Black Eyed Peas & Greens for Luck 

Eating Black Eyed Peas is one of my favorite New Year's traditions. If you want an easy recipe that incorporates both, check out my Tennessee Caviar (adapted from this). 

Stir together 2 cans of black eyed peas (drained), one can Ro-Tel, and one can yellow corn (drained). Add 2 cups of zesty Italian salad dressing and stir well. Refrigerate for at least one hour, up to overnight. You can also add shredded kale or spinach as a garnish. 

Beans and greens eaten on New Year's are said to bring good fortune because they resemble money (coins and dollars). Who couldn't use a little more of the green stuff? Eat up! 

Eat Round, Sweet Foods in Honor of Life's Continuous Circle

From donuts to cookies, or cakes, many cultures enjoy sweet round foods as part of their New Year's celebrations. It may be because they represent the circle of life, the way things flow from the end of one year to the beginning of another. 

Cream puffs or profiteroles are a great option for a New Year's party. You could even set up a cream puff station and let guests add their own toppings. Offer things like chocolate and caramel dipping sauces, whipped cream, and sprinkles for a fun DIY dessert bar. 

Eat 12 Grapes at the Stroke of Midnight for Good Fortune in the New Year

New Year's traditions in Spain include eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight. Supposedly this began after a grape surplus in the early 20th century. The idea is to eat all 12 grapes while the clock is striking midnight. Each is supposed to represent the months of the coming year. 

To make your New Year's grapes feel a bit more special, try sugaring them. Rinse grapes and then dust them lightly with caster sugar or powdered Jell-O for a bit more flavor. As they dry, the sugar will crystallize and create a lovely treat. 

Whatever you do eat, don't eat lobster on New Year's...since they move backwards, it's said that eating this can cause you to have regrets in the New Year. And we don't need any of that!